416 books about Economic History and 21 start with A
416 books about Economic History and 21 start with A
BiblioVault ® 2001 - 2023
The University of Chicago Press
The terms “capitalism” and “socialism” continue to haunt our political and economic imaginations, but we rarely consider their interconnected early history. Even the eighteenth century had its “socialists,” but unlike those of the nineteenth, they paradoxically sought to make the world safe for “capitalists.” The word “socialists” was first used in Northern Italy as a term of contempt for the political economists and legal reformers Pietro Verri and Cesare Beccaria, author of the epochal On Crimes and Punishments. Yet the views and concerns of these first socialists, developed inside a pugnacious intellectual coterie dubbed the Academy of Fisticuffs, differ dramatically from those of the socialists that followed.
Sophus Reinert turns to Milan in the late 1700s to recover the Academy’s ideas and the policies they informed. At the core of their preoccupations lay the often lethal tension among states, markets, and human welfare in an era when the three were becoming increasingly intertwined. What distinguished these thinkers was their articulation of a secular basis for social organization, rooted in commerce, and their insistence that political economy trumped theology as the underpinning for peace and prosperity within and among nations.
Reinert argues that the Italian Enlightenment, no less than the Scottish, was central to the emergence of political economy and the project of creating market societies. By reconstructing ideas in their historical contexts, he addresses motivations and contingencies at the very foundations of modernity.
A Five Books Best Economics Book of the Year
A Politico Great Weekend Read
“The evolution of modern management is usually associated with good old-fashioned intelligence and ingenuity… But capitalism is not just about the free market; it was also built on the backs of slaves.”
The story of modern management generally looks to the factories of England and New England for its genesis. But after scouring through old accounting books, Caitlin Rosenthal discovered that Southern planter-capitalists practiced an early form of scientific management. They took meticulous notes, carefully recording daily profits and productivity, and subjected their slaves to experiments and incentive strategies comprised of rewards and brutal punishment. Challenging the traditional depiction of slavery as a barrier to innovation, Accounting for Slavery shows how elite planters turned their power over enslaved people into a productivity advantage. The result is a groundbreaking investigation of business practices in Southern and West Indian plantations and an essential contribution to our understanding of slavery’s relationship with capitalism.
“Slavery in the United States was a business. A morally reprehensible—and very profitable business… Rosenthal argues that slaveholders…were using advanced management and accounting techniques long before their northern counterparts. Techniques that are still used by businesses today.”
—Marketplace (American Public Media)
“Rosenthal pored over hundreds of account books from U.S. and West Indian plantations… She found that their owners employed advanced accounting and management tools, including depreciation and standardized efficiency metrics.”
—Harvard Business Review
This book could be called “The Intelligent Person’s Guide to Economics.” Like Robert Heilbroner’s The Worldly Philosophers, it attempts to explain the core ideas of the great economists, beginning with Adam Smith and ending with Joseph Schumpeter. In between are chapters on Thomas Malthus, David Ricardo, Karl Marx, the marginalists, John Maynard Keynes, Friedrich Hayek, and Thorstein Veblen. The title expresses Duncan Foley’s belief that economics at its most abstract and interesting level is a speculative philosophical discourse, not a deductive or inductive science. Adam’s fallacy is the attempt to separate the economic sphere of life, in which the pursuit of self-interest is led by the invisible hand of the market to a socially beneficial outcome, from the rest of social life, in which the pursuit of self-interest is morally problematic and has to be weighed against other ends.
Smith and his successors argued that the market and the division of labor that is fostered by it result in tremendous gains in productivity, which lead to a higher standard of living. Yet the market does not address the problem of distribution—that is, how is the gain in wealth to be divided among the classes and members of society? Nor does it address such problems as the long-run well-being of the planet.
Adam’s Fallacy is beautifully written and contains interesting observations and insights on almost every page. It will engage the reader’s thoughts and feelings on the deepest level.
A Foreign Affairs Best Book of the Year
“An intellectual excursion of a kind rarely offered by modern economics.”
Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century is the most widely discussed work of economics in recent years. But are its analyses of inequality and economic growth on target? Where should researchers go from there in exploring the ideas Piketty pushed to the forefront of global conversation? A cast of leading economists and other social scientists—including Emmanuel Saez, Branko Milanovic, Laura Tyson, and Michael Spence—tackle these questions in dialogue with Piketty.
“A fantastic introduction to Piketty’s main argument in Capital, and to some of the main criticisms, including doubt that his key equation…showing that returns on capital grow faster than the economy—will hold true in the long run.”
“Piketty’s work…laid bare just how ill-equipped our existing frameworks are for understanding, predicting, and changing inequality. This extraordinary collection shows that our most nimble social scientists are responding to the challenge.”
—Justin Wolfers, University of Michigan
Powerful financial forces have supported the neoliberal project since the 1980s to advance their interests, but there are now signs that these forces have a new face and a new strategy.
The majority of the British finance sector threw its support behind Britain leaving the European Union, a flagship institution of neoliberalism. Beyond this counterintuitive move, what was really happening and why? Alt-Finance examines a new authoritarian turn in financialised democracies, focusing on the City of London, revealing a dangerous alternative political project in the making.
In a clash with traditional finance, the new behemoths of financial capital - hedge funds, private equity firms, and real estate funds - have started to cohere around a set of political beliefs, promoting libertarian, authoritarian, climate-denying, and Eurosceptic views. Protecting investments, suppressing social dissent, and reducing state interference is at the core of their mission for a new world order.
By following the money, the authors provide indisputable evidence of these worrying developments. Through a clear analysis of the international dealings of this new authoritarian-libertarian regime, not just in Britain but in the US and Brazil, we can understand how our world is being shaped against our will by struggles between dominant groups.
American agriculture in the twentieth century has given the world one of its great success stories, a paradigm of productivity and plenty. Yet the story has its dark side, from the plight of the Okies in the 1930s to the farm crisis of the 1980s to today's concerns about low crop prices and the impact of biotechnology. Looking at U.S. farming over the past century, Bruce Gardner searches out explanations for both the remarkable progress and the persistent social problems that have marked the history of American agriculture.
Gardner documents both the economic difficulties that have confronted farmers and the technological and economic transformations that have lifted them from relative poverty to economic parity with the nonfarm population. He provides a detailed analysis of the causes of these trends, with emphasis on the role of government action. He reviews how commodity support programs, driven by interest-group politics, have spent hundreds of billions of dollars to little purpose. Nonetheless, Gardner concludes that by reconciling competing economic interests while fostering productivity growth and economic integration of the farm and nonfarm economies, the overall twentieth-century role of government in American agriculture is fairly viewed as a triumph of democracy.
Once an icon of American industry, railroads fell into a long decline beginning around the turn of the twentieth century. Overburdened with regulation and often displaced by barge traffic on government-maintained waterways, trucking on interstate highways, and jet aviation, railroads measured their misfortune in lost market share, abandoned track, bankruptcies, and unemployment. Today, however, as Robert Gallamore and John Meyer demonstrate, rail transportation is reviving, rescued by new sources of traffic and advanced technology, as well as less onerous bureaucracy.
In 1970, Congress responded to the industry's plight by consolidating most passenger rail service nationwide into Amtrak. But private-sector freight service was left to succeed or fail on its own. The renaissance in freight traffic began in 1980 with the Staggers Rail Act, which allowed railroad companies to contract with customers for services and granted freedom to set most rates based on market supply and demand. Railroads found new business hauling low-sulfur coal and grain long distances in redesigned freight cars, while double-stacked container cars moved a growing volume of both international and domestic goods. Today, trains have smaller crews, operate over better track, and are longer and heavier than ever before.
Near the end of the twentieth century, after several difficult but important mergers, privately owned railroads increased their investments in safe, energy-efficient, environmentally friendly freight transportation. American Railroads tells a riveting story about how this crucial U.S. industry managed to turn itself around.
"The American taxpayer"--angered by government waste and satisfied only with spending cuts--has preoccupied elected officials and political commentators since the Reagan Revolution. But resistance to progressive taxation has older, deeper roots. American Tax Resisters presents the full history of the American anti-tax movement that has defended the pursuit of limited taxes on wealth and battled efforts to secure social justice through income redistribution for the past 150 years.
From the Tea Party to the Koch brothers, the major players in today's anti-tax crusade emerge in Romain Huret's account as the heirs of a formidable--and far from ephemeral--political movement. Diverse coalitions of Americans have rallied around the flag of tax opposition since the Civil War, their grievances fueled by a determination to defend private life against government intrusion and a steadfast belief in the economic benefits and just rewards of untaxed income. Local tax resisters were actively mobilized by business and corporate interests throughout the early twentieth century, undeterred by such setbacks as the Sixteenth Amendment establishing a federal income tax. Zealously petitioning Congress and chipping at the edges of progressive tax policies, they bequeathed hard-won experience to younger generations of conservatives in their pursuit of laissez-faire capitalism.
Capturing the decisive moments in U.S. history when tax resisters convinced a majority of Americans to join their crusade, Romain Huret explains how a once marginal ideology became mainstream, elevating economic success and individual entrepreneurialism over social sacrifice and solidarity.
For all the recent attention to the slaveholding of the founding fathers, we still know remarkably little about the influence of slavery on American politics. American Taxation, American Slavery tackles this problem in a new way. Rather than parsing the ideological pronouncements of charismatic slaveholders, it examines the concrete policy decisions that slaveholders and non-slaveholders made in the critical realm of taxation. The result is surprising—that the enduring power of antigovernment rhetoric in the United States stems from the nation’s history of slavery rather than its history of liberty.
We are all familiar with the states’ rights arguments of proslavery politicians who wanted to keep the federal government weak and decentralized. But here Robin Einhorn shows the deep, broad, and continuous influence of slavery on this idea in American politics. From the earliest colonial times right up to the Civil War, slaveholding elites feared strong democratic government as a threat to the institution of slavery. American Taxation, American Slavery shows how their heated battles over taxation, the power to tax, and the distribution of tax burdens were rooted not in debates over personal liberty but rather in the rights of slaveholders to hold human beings as property. Along the way, Einhorn exposes the antidemocratic origins of the popular Jeffersonian rhetoric about weak government by showing that governments were actually more democratic—and stronger—where most people were free.
A strikingly original look at the role of slavery in the making of the United States, American Taxation, American Slavery will prove essential to anyone interested in the history of American government and politics.
The Institute for American Values began its work on thrift-—the ethic of wise use—-in 2004, when they were invited to partner with the John Templeton Foundation in a scholarly exploration of thrift as an American value. What they discovered was a forgotten history–but more importantly, IAV’s research uncovered limitless contemporary possibilities in an irreplaceable virtue.
“We see thrift as a comprehensive and transformative lens to inspire and measure the aspirations of more productive, self-reliant, imaginative and resilient—in short thriving—individuals and communities,” says the Institute. “In the area of thrift education, our dream is for every young American to benefit from at least one module of high-quality thrift education before reaching age 18, through a school, library, youth-serving organization, or financial services organization.”
With American Thrift: A Reader, David Blankenhorn and Andrew F. Kline provide a key resource in the pursuit of that goal.
A bold call to reclaim an American tradition that argues the Constitution imposes a duty on government to fight oligarchy and ensure broadly shared wealth.
Oligarchy is a threat to the American republic. When too much economic and political power is concentrated in too few hands, we risk losing the “republican form of government” the Constitution requires. Today, courts enforce the Constitution as if it had almost nothing to say about this threat. But as Joseph Fishkin and William Forbath show in this revolutionary retelling of constitutional history, a commitment to prevent oligarchy once stood at the center of a robust tradition in American political and constitutional thought.
Fishkin and Forbath demonstrate that reformers, legislators, and even judges working in this “democracy-of-opportunity” tradition understood that the Constitution imposes a duty on legislatures to thwart oligarchy and promote a broad distribution of wealth and political power. These ideas led Jacksonians to fight special economic privileges for the few, Populists to try to break up monopoly power, and Progressives to fight for the constitutional right to form a union. During Reconstruction, Radical Republicans argued in this tradition that racial equality required breaking up the oligarchy of the Slave Power and distributing wealth and opportunity to former slaves and their descendants. President Franklin Roosevelt and the New Dealers built their politics around this tradition, winning the fight against the “economic royalists” and “industrial despots.”
But today, as we enter a new Gilded Age, this tradition in progressive American economic and political thought lies dormant. The Anti-Oligarchy Constitution begins the work of recovering it and exploring its profound implications for our deeply unequal society and badly damaged democracy.
A Turk’s discovery that Armenians once thrived in his hometown leads to a groundbreaking investigation into the local dynamics of genocide.
Ümit Kurt, born and raised in Gaziantep, Turkey, was astonished to learn that his hometown once had a large and active Armenian community. The Armenian presence in Aintab, the city’s name during the Ottoman period, had not only been destroyed—it had been replaced. To every appearance, Gaziantep was a typical Turkish city.
Kurt digs into the details of the Armenian dispossession that produced the homogeneously Turkish city in which he grew up. In particular, he examines the population that gained from ethnic cleansing. Records of land confiscation and population transfer demonstrate just how much new wealth became available when the prosperous Armenians—who were active in manufacturing, agricultural production, and trade—were ejected. Although the official rationale for the removal of the Armenians was that the group posed a threat of rebellion, Kurt shows that the prospect of material gain was a key motivator of support for the Armenian genocide among the local Muslim gentry and the Turkish public. Those who benefited most—provincial elites, wealthy landowners, state officials, and merchants who accumulated Armenian capital—in turn financed the nationalist movement that brought the modern Turkish republic into being. The economic elite of Aintab was thus reconstituted along both ethnic and political lines.
The Armenians of Aintab draws on primary sources from Armenian, Ottoman, Turkish, British, and French archives, as well as memoirs, personal papers, oral accounts, and newly discovered property-liquidation records. Together they provide an invaluable account of genocide at ground level.
Over sixty percent of all infectious human diseases, including tuberculosis, influenza, cholera, and hundreds more, are shared with other vertebrate animals. Arresting Contagion tells the story of how early efforts to combat livestock infections turned the United States from a disease-prone nation into a world leader in controlling communicable diseases. Alan Olmstead and Paul Rhode show that many innovations devised in the fight against animal diseases, ranging from border control and food inspection to drug regulations and the creation of federal research labs, provided the foundation for modern food safety programs and remain at the heart of U.S. public health policy.
America’s first concerted effort to control livestock diseases dates to the founding of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) in 1884. Because the BAI represented a milestone in federal regulation of commerce and industry, the agency encountered major jurisdictional and constitutional obstacles. Nevertheless, it proved effective in halting the spread of diseases, counting among its early breakthroughs the discovery of Salmonella and advances in the understanding of vector-borne diseases.
By the 1940s, government policies had eliminated several major animal diseases, saving hundreds of thousands of lives and establishing a model for eradication that would be used around the world. Although scientific advances played a key role, government interventions did as well. Today, a dominant economic ideology frowns on government regulation of the economy, but the authors argue that in this case it was an essential force for good.
A lively account of how dinosaurs became a symbol of American power and prosperity and gripped the popular imagination during the Gilded Age, when their fossil remains were collected and displayed in museums financed by North America’s wealthiest business tycoons.
Although dinosaur fossils were first found in England, a series of dramatic discoveries during the late 1800s turned North America into a world center for vertebrate paleontology. At the same time, the United States emerged as the world’s largest industrial economy, and creatures like Tyrannosaurus, Brontosaurus, and Triceratops became emblems of American capitalism. Large, fierce, and spectacular, American dinosaurs dominated the popular imagination, making front-page headlines and appearing in feature films.
Assembling the Dinosaur follows dinosaur fossils from the field to the museum and into the commercial culture of North America’s Gilded Age. Business tycoons like Andrew Carnegie and J. P. Morgan made common cause with vertebrate paleontologists to capitalize on the widespread appeal of dinosaurs, using them to project American exceptionalism back into prehistory. Learning from the show-stopping techniques of P. T. Barnum, museums exhibited dinosaurs to attract, entertain, and educate the public. By assembling the skeletons of dinosaurs into eye-catching displays, wealthy industrialists sought to cement their own reputations as generous benefactors of science, showing that modern capitalism could produce public goods in addition to profits. Behind the scenes, museums adopted corporate management practices to control the movement of dinosaur bones, restricting their circulation to influence their meaning and value in popular culture.
Tracing the entwined relationship of dinosaurs, capitalism, and culture during the Gilded Age, Lukas Rieppel reveals the outsized role these giant reptiles played during one of the most consequential periods in American history.
In 1921 Austria became the first interwar European country to experience hyperinflation. The League of Nations, among other actors, stepped in to help reconstruct the economy, but a decade later Austria’s largest bank, Credit-Anstalt, collapsed. Historians have correlated these events with the banking and currency crisis that destabilized interwar Europe—a narrative that relies on the claim that Austria and the global monetary system were the victims of financial interlopers. In this corrective history, Nathan Marcus deemphasizes the destructive role of external players in Austria’s reconstruction and points to the greater impact of domestic malfeasance and predatory speculation on the nation’s financial and political decline.
Consulting sources ranging from diplomatic dossiers to bank statements and financial analyses, Marcus shows how the League of Nations’ efforts to curb Austrian hyperinflation in 1922 were politically constrained. The League left Austria in 1926 but foreign interests intervened in 1931 to contain the fallout from the Credit-Anstalt collapse. Not until later, when problems in the German and British economies became acute, did Austrians and speculators exploit the country’s currency and compromise its value. Although some statesmen and historians have pinned Austria’s—and the world’s—economic implosion on financial colonialism, Marcus’s research offers a more accurate appraisal of early multilateral financial supervision and intervention.
Illuminating new facets of the interwar political economy, Austrian Reconstruction and the Collapse of Global Finance reckons with the true consequences of international involvement in the Austrian economy during a key decade of renewal and crisis.
BiblioVault ® 2001 - 2023
The University of Chicago Press